Visa worries: Indian students look beyond US, UK for B-school courses

Indian students interested in overseas business education are particularly concerned about political noises in the US and the Brexit fallout in the UK


Among candidates for full-time MBA courses abroad, 58% now prefer to study in the US, down from 61% in 2009. Photo: HT
Among candidates for full-time MBA courses abroad, 58% now prefer to study in the US, down from 61% in 2009. Photo: HT

New Delhi: Restrictive immigration policies in countries like the US and the UK are driving away Indian students looking to pursue management education abroad, a survey by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) showed.

Indian students interested in overseas business education are particularly concerned about political noises in the US and the Brexit fallout in the UK, the survey showed. GMAC conducts the GMAT exam for admission to foreign business schools. The findings of the survey were shared exclusively with Mint.

Among candidates for full-time MBA courses outside their country of citizenship, 58% now prefer to study in the US, down from 61% in 2009.

While only 3% of Indian candidates preferred to pursue an MBA in Canada in 2009, the share has risen to 8% in 2016. Similarly, some 9% of the Indians looking to pursue non-MBA management courses are now looking at Canada, up from 4% in 2009. Besides Canada, Australia too has emerged a favourite destination for Indians to pursue business education, it added.

Globally, 47% prospective non-US students interested in non-MBA business programs expressed a preference for studying in the US, down from 57% in 2009, reflecting a trend common to foreign students.

“More recently, political movements emphasizing protectionist immigration and economic policies have altered the perceptions and intentions of candidates who seek international study opportunities,” the survey said.

“These factors impact the interests and goals of prospective students, as well as the offerings and recruitment strategies of the business schools...The findings highlight how work visas are a particularly important decision factor for Indian candidates, of whom 82% say obtaining a work visa after completing their degree is a very important consideration when selecting a study destination,” the survey said.

Thomas F. Gibbons, dean of the School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University in the US, recently said in an interview that enrolment of international students is down in a lot of US universities.

“What worries me is a loss of cultural diversity (in universities). A Chinese student, an Indian student brings a world perspective that is rich. It benefits our students...” Gibbons said.

On the UK, the survey said that a “country level analysis reveals that Indian candidates are the most negatively influenced by the Brexit vote, with 58% reporting that it has made them less likely to study there.”

According to the findings, while the US still remains the most preferred destination, western Europe—which included countries like the UK —is losing ground. In 2009, some 21% of Indians were looking to pursue full-time MBA in western Europe and the number was down to 16% in 2016.

The survey said 72% of Indian students surveyed said they are looking at countries like Canada because of better chances of an international career. Similarly, affordability, ease of obtaining a student visa and work visa are other factors driving Indians to look outside their traditional study-abroad destinations.

Rahul Choudaha, chief executive of DrEducation LLC, a US-based higher education research and consulting firm, said that Indian students are “value-seekers aiming to maximize the return on their investment of studying abroad. Optional practical training and future prospects of finding job opportunities are integral to their decision-making. Any change that increases the total cost of education or makes it more difficult to gain work experience...(this) make American institutions less attractive to Indian students.”

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